MembersTsunami: Could It Happen In Israel?

Israelis have learned to live with earthquakes while ignoring the threat of tsunamis. How well is the country prepared for tidal waves?

By Gundula M. Tegtmeyer | | Topics: Natural Disasters
Coastal area of Tel Aviv and Jaffa. How prepared is it to endure a tsunami?
Coastal area of Tel Aviv and Jaffa. How prepared is it to endure a tsunami? Photo: Shutterstock

Earthquakes and other seismic activity in oceans can trigger tsunamis, tidal waves that hit land with enormous force and wreak havoc. On December 26, 2004, a tidal wave claimed the lives of 250,000 people in Indonesia. Millions were made homeless and lost their livelihoods.

The word tsunami has its origins in Japanese. “Tsu” means port, “nami” is the wave. A “wave in the harbour” may not sound particularly threatening at first. This is why regions in which tsunamis occur rarely or only with moderate force tend to underestimate the danger. But even comparatively small tidal waves can cause great damage.

Israel has long ignored this threat, despite lying on the Syrian-African Rift, a section of the Great African Rift Valley. This is where the African and Arabian plates collide, putting Israel in a region of active plate tectonics. The location on the Mediterranean Sea is an ideal prerequisite for the formation of tsunamis.

The last time a tsunami hit Israel was in 1956. It was small and there was no significant damage.

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